Change was the name of the game in 1977 and for 1977 changes under the hood were as big as body changes. Square headlights were now DOT certified and Firebird's body took on a more angular look to make the dual square headlights in a newly designed grille. The hood was now flat and the front fascia was a one pirce design rather than separate bumpers as in 1976. To match the new hood Formula hoods were redesigned featuring dual scoops set closer to the leading edge than in '76 and squared off. The striking W50 Formula Appearance Package introduced in 1976 was offerred again and more colors were added including gold accents on black cars. Trans Am likewise received a new hood scoop that featured a more angular design. There were actually two Trans Am hood scoops in '77: the first design did not protrude upward enough so a taller one was introduced mid year. The new styling was an immediate hit and Firebird sales were propelled past the 150,000 mark, up nearly 40,000 units from '76.
1977 Firebird Esprit
In 1977 GM made its first significant move toward its current model of corporate engined cars beginning with offering engines from Buick, Chevrolet, and Oldsmobile in new Pontiacs. As new emmissions and safety regulations were enacted it became too expensive to certify multiple engines from multiple divisions so the number of unique engines offerred would be reduced. Although the Chevrolet inline 6 had been standard in Firebird for 7 years consumer reaction was mixed with many buyers upset about getting non-Pontiac engines in their Firebird. GM even offerred a program to buy back cars on a pro-rated basis from consumers who felt they had been mislead.
Engine choices for Firebird began with a newly offerred V-6 produced by Buick providing power as standard equipment in Base Firebird and Esprit. A new light weight 301 V-8 engine produced by Pontiac was available on Base and Esprit and standard in Formula but demand far outstripped production so on June 2, 1977 Pontiac announced that it would be replaced by the Chevrolet 305 V-8. Two 350 engines, a Pontiac 350 for 49 states and an Oldsmobile 350 for California were optional in Base, Esprit, and Formula. California regulations became strict in 1977 due to sever smog probems. Two versions of the 400 were also available. The base L78 400 rated at 180 hp was standard equipment in Trans Am (optional in Formula) and a new W72 400 with 200hp was optional for Trans Am and Formula. The 455 was gone forever from the menu this year but the W72 more than made up for its absense. In California neither Pontiac 400's were available and the Oldsmobile 403 V-8 was standard in Trans Am, optional in Formula.
The Black and Gold Limited Edition, now labeled Special Edition, was again available and sold like hot cakes with 15,576 units sparked by the exploits of a black Trans Am on the hit movie Smokey and the Bandit
. This Trans Am is still the most sought after Firebird and became the flagship symbol for the marque. Another special package was offerred on Esprit called the Skybird package and feature a light blue exterior with blue interior and special graphics.
The 1977 and 1978 Firebirds are nearly identical but a sure fire way to spot a '77 is by the honeycomb grille. In 1978 this would be a diagonal cross hath design. In models with custom interiors a '77 has larger seats with a horse collar design where '78 would have more angular features. From the rear the '76 to '78 models appear almost identical.